CIA Calls on Court to Keep Interrogation Files Secret

Panetta warns that releasing records would benefit al-Qaeda
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2009 7:00 AM CDT
CIA Director Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrive at the National Archives in Washington last month prior to President Obama's address on national security.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – The head of the CIA urged a federal judge yesterday to keep records of harsh interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects under wraps, CNN reports. The ACLU is suing to make the files, which describe the content of destroyed CIA tapes, public. But Leon Panetta warned that doing so would have "exceptionally grave" consequences for national security, and would give al-Qaeda a huge propaganda boost.

Panetta denied that he was trying to prevent the agency from being embarrassed or seeking to cover up unlawful conduct.  "My sole purpose is to prevent the exceptionally grave damage to national security likely to occur from public disclosure of any portion of these documents, and to protect intelligence sources and methods," he wrote in a sworn declaration.